In the note accompanying Geist's copy of jacks: a gothic gospel (Livres DC Books), the book's author Anne Stone recommends it for review, or for "hanging out on a coffee table as an orange object." And, although it is a lovely orange object, jacks is also worth a thorough read. It tangles the reader in a kind of rhythmic spell, which Stone achieves in part by creating carefully skewed repetitions, echoing significant words, phrases and characters in slightly different ways. The book's many "jacks" are among these off-kilter echoes, which include a series of violent, sexually predatory or just plain strange male figures derived from memory or legends: one-eyed jack, jack frost, jack-in-the-box, hoodoo jack, jack spratt and others. These very creepy men seem always to be lurking in and on the edges of Stone's eerily normalized landscape, replete with fish store rooftops, Bosque Perdue swamplands, blank rooms and river-bottom muck, jacks' plot is bound to the dark childhood memories of a character named Hermeline, and centres on Hermeline's varied attempts to tell her difficult, often violent story. It emerges like a series of childhood memories she can't shake, memories that become increasingly clouded by the opinions and responses of those in whom she confides—including a series of psychiatrists and the reader. The story becomes its own untelling, and our final glimpse is of Hermeline sweeping, sweeping, "because the sweeping is never done, never done, never never never." jacks is a difficult book to grasp logically, but its mood, landscape and characters, and its jacks-game rhythm, are unusual and unsettling. It also looks nice on a coffee table.